You may have seen some incredible landscape shots captured in broad daylight on numerous sites like Flickr and noticed some bright blue skies with amazing clouds. It’s most likely that the photographer was using a great quality polarizing filter when he took the shot.
Now, what are polarizing filters? It’s a great photography tool used to enhance saturation and contrast in order to produce images with the wow factor without the need of using any photo-editing software like Photoshop. Therefore, it won’t be wrong if we say that today, any photographer’s kit bag would be incomplete if it doesn’t contain a polarizing filter.
A polarizing filter adds some great effects to your images by allowing some light rays of specific wavelengths to pass through it. It cuts through haze making the skies more clear and blue and boosts contrast to make your images look stunning.
It would be a great idea to shoot using a polarizing filter on sunny days to get the best results. The subject you are shooting should be at a 90-degree to the direction of the sunlight. After attaching the filter to the end of the lens, you can adjust the intensity of the polarizing effect by simply rotating its outer ring.
Be sure to set your white balance to a fixed setting like Daylight as it will ensure your DSLR doesn’t interfere into the functionality of the filter. If you are getting overly bright results, adjust the exposure compensation to around -2/3-stop to -1-stop and you are good to go.
Below are some of the most popular polarizing filters on the market today.
The B+W 77mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann by Schneider Optics is one of the best circular polarizers. Its multi-resistant nano-coating does a great job to prevent glare and reflections and gives you a great indoor and outdoor photography experience.
The more basic B+W F-Pro MRC has a standard range of multi-coatings and a thick profile — though still thinner than Hoya’s filters. The XS-Pro ‘Nano’ edition, on the other hand, has an ultra-thin profile and features uprated coatings which are water and dirt resistant as well as extremely anti-reflective. It is also easier to clean. A brass frame with a matte black finish encloses a high-quality Schott glass.
With the ultra-thin profile that XS-Pro has, vignetting is unlikely but it can be a bit tricky for you to adjust the outer ring.
The Hoya PRO1 packs Digital Multi-Coated (DMC) technology which helps it avoid ghosting and flaring effects. It features Low Profile Frame (LPF) with an ultra-thin filter frame to counter the vignetting effect on wide-angle lenses.
The PRO1 has been specifically designed for digital cameras. It produces outstanding results with strong contrast while maintaining the overall color balance of the image.
From its lightweight build to the striking images it produces, this PRO1 filter is truly a piece of art. A black matte almite frame reduces reflections and the black-rimmed glass minimizes the chance of light reflecting off the edge. A UV protected case helps increase the life of the filter. You can get this filter with all these great features at a very reasonable price.
Breakthrough Photography’s X4 CPL is a solidly built filter. SCHOTT Superwhite B270 optical glass has been used to make its optical element and each side of the glass is then treated with eight layers of Breakthrough Photography’s own nanotec and MRC (multi-resistant coatings) optical coatings which essentially give it dirt and moisture repellent capabilities.
The X4 CPL is available in different versions to fit lens threads ranging from 39 to 105mm. It delivers the perfect color-neutral performance you would expect out of a high-end polarizing filter and comes equipped with an extremely high quality of glass, which means it won’t have imperfections that could possibly ruin your images.
It’s one of the most expensive polarizing filters around and not really made for beginners. However, professional photographers would love to have it in their kit bag.
The LEE Filters 75 x 90mm Seven5 Circular Polarizer Filter delivers a great imaging performance and is very durable because of its construction with high-quality optical glass. Its design makes it compatible with the Seven5 Micro Filter System which is specifically made for smaller interchangeable lens cameras.
This Circular Polarizer filters out the light that becomes polarized due to reflection from a non-metallic surface, resulting in the reduction of ghosting and flare effects. It absorbs this polarized light, cuts through hazy conditions, and makes the skies clear and blue in your images. It also helps minimize reflections in glass and on water.
Like every other polarizing filter, it works well when used at a 90-degree angle from the direction of sunlight; however, this lens is expensive and you may observe some vignetting effects.
Tiffen’s 77mm Polarizer is a well-built polarizing lens filter that will give you the high performance you’re seeking in all outdoor shooting conditions. It has a great ability to dramatically reduce or completely eliminate glare and deepen the intensity of blue skies. The available options to fit lens threads range from 28 to 86mm.
The Tiffen Polarizer Filter is padded with a water-resistant nylon material and has a great color accuracy in most shooting conditions. One can easily say that currently, it’s one of the best mid-range polarizers for outdoor photography.
Picking the Best Polarizing Filters for Cameras
Polarizing filters are one of the many important photography tools today and if you want to take your photography experience or career to the next level, you should have one of these. They are especially a must-have for landscape photographers.
Polarizing filters help reduce unwanted glare and reflection from certain surfaces and you always want to change the light from the sky to make your images look awesome. Therefore, you need to pick one of the top polarizing filters from the list above.